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Two years of efforts for Colombian peace

Ending the armed conflict had three great steps:

  • The exploration stage or the pre-negotiation
  • The negotiation and its endorsement and
  • Implementing of what was agreed, which is properly the peacebuilding process

In implementing the agreement it will be useful to differentiate:

  • The regulatory dimension: turn into constitutional laws, legal procedures or regulations what was agreed, which is the task of the legislative branch and the Courts.
  • The territorial execution of what was agreed.
  • The reincorporation of the insurgent group members into legal activities which the executive branch and the former guerrilla group are in charge.

Without a doubt the preceding tests the political volition of the parties involved, the administrative capability of the government, territorially and nationally and the support of the Colombian society. In the Colombian case, the government and FARC agreed to an Implementation Framework of 15 years, which needs to be considered when people make conclusive affirmations over the progress of the implementation.

The University of Notre Dame Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies is formally in charge of following up the peace process and is regularly producing reports on the matter. Also support from the International Verification Technical Secretary of the Research Center and Popular Education (CINEP, for its Spanish acronym), the Resource Center for Conflict Analysis (CERAC, for its Spanish acronym), the Organization of Ibero-American States (OIE) along with universities of the State University System (SUE, for its Spanish acronym) the Congress of Colombia, the Peace and Reconciliation Foundation and Forum for Colombia and lastly Viva la Ciudadanía.

Opposition statue and more security, among the positives

In our democracy there are powers with relative autonomy (executive, legislative and judicial branches), and although the agreements with signed with executive delegates, which not necessarily compromised the autonomy of the other two branches, it did test the collaboration of different branches of public power to comply with the commitment of the government.

The first positive outcome of the agreement is that FARC is no longer an illegally armed guerrilla, which has had a positive impact in the security of several Colombian provinces, but what has happened with the dissident groups? It was predictable that this would happen, it occurs in almost all armed conflicts, but they have no future as delinquent armed groups and the public force will be in charge of combating them. The FARC is now a political party.

A third positive factor is that the agreement established creating a Comprehensive Security System for the Exercise of Politics with the purpose of guaranteeing the implementation of effective protection and security measures for social and opposition leaders in the development of communitarian and political activities. In order to guarantee the effectiveness of these measures, it is essential to emphasize the territorial focus of the implementation, which needs to be reflected in no more killings of social leaders and former combatants.

A fourth factor is that the former guerrilla members are about to be judged by the Special Jurisdiction of Peace (JEP, for its Spanish acronym) which is just beginning, as also the military personnel and policemen involved in non-amnestiable crimes linked to the armed conflict–crimes of war and serious violations to human rights and the international humanitarian law–. Also, the other components of the Comprehensive Truth, Justice Reparation and Non-Repetition System are now on track which is the Commission for Clarifying the Truth, Coexistence, and Non-Repetition, and the Unit for Search of People Thought Missing for reason of the conflict as well as the slow beginning of the comprehensive reparation for peacebuilding and non-repetition guarantees.

A fifth factor is that now the country has an Opposition Statue which improves the political guarantees for election losers although it was not as dreamt by opposition leaders. 

Sixth and with administrative difficulties is the process of former combatant reincorporation, after previous abandonment of weapons and its submittal to the United Nations and performing a Socioeconomic Census carried out by UNal. Some of the difficulties are in the so-called “Clinton List” imposed by the United States and obstructs things such as opening bank accounts for Co-ops or companies created by former combatants. However, there is great support from the international community, especially the European Union and the United Nations and an important support from several universities and the National Apprenticeship Service (SENA, for its Spanish acronym) regarding teaching and consulting.

A seventh factor is the airing of a TV program called Mimbre (rattan) which was part of the agreement where weekly there is pedagogy for peace. They also began to allot the first communitarian transmissions included in the agreement.

Pending tasks

Among the negative aspects is that fact that the Political Reform produced by the Special Electoral Mission or the 16 transitional seats in Congress for the most affected conflict territories has not been implemented.

In the agrarian aspect, things are just beginning to develop and it is fair to say that President Duque has had a realistic and responsible attitude and in a recent document entitled, “Peace, stabilization, and consolidation is for evrybody” says that President Duque will comply with the agreed, the implementation of the agreement will respect and recognize the inclusive policies of gender and ethnicity, with ample emphasis on policies directed toward rural women.”

Also for 2019, the government has the commitment of supporting the projects of the Multipurpose Rural Cadaster and extend the coverage of the Agrarian Jurisdiction. Without a doubt, this document clarifies the commitment of this government with the implementation, although, for obvious reasons, the topic will not have a central focus as it did with the preceding administration.

What happened with the Colombian National Liberation Army (ELN)?

With respect to the ELN, it is important to provide a little time to the government which has left the discussion table imposing two conditions: freeing of all people kidnapped by the ELN and ending this practice, besides stopping all violent activities, a demand supported by most Colombians.

Despite the preceding, the new political climate of the country allowed for elections in a different security environment. A Congress was elected with no dominating political force such as the time of the liberal-conservative hegemony, compelling the construction of permanent agreements.

Also, the possibility of expression of social protesting has improved and this has allowed for a great movement in defense for the public university, headed by students and professors without the stigmatization of the past and with a more respectful police force and in general greater respect for social protest, a conquest of the agreement.

There is no doubt that the implementation of the agreement with FARC can have a significant impact in regards to an eventual peace agreement with the ELN. This would demonstrate the will and capacity of the government to comply with the agreements which could eventually come into fruition with this terrorist organization.

It is true that the implementation could go at a different pace, but with realism, it is important to say that things have been advancing positively and for this evolution to continue it is important to recognize the contribution of former FARC members. It is important to stimulate former hesitant guerrilla members that pose legitimate concerns to actively participate and tell them that there are no perfect processes and what is, is susceptible of improvement.

Consejo Editorial